The previous generation Volkswagen Passat was discontinued in 2014 and has been absent in India ever since. Now, after a three-year hiatus, the Passat is back in its eighth-generation avatar, slimmer, wider and shorter but more importantly, much better looking. The Passat shares its platform with its brother Volkswagen Tiguan and cousin Skoda Kodiaq. The premium segment which the Passat comes in isn’t necessarily a hot segment but still commands respect. Can the German bring in the required spice?
On the outside, the Passat wears a sharper suit that wraps tightly around the body. The new MQB platform has enabled the car to have a longer wheelbase despite being a couple of millimetres shorter than the previous generation. To the front, the grille and headlamp unit flow seamlessly as one. The DRLs and LED headlamps look cool and there’s a generous amount of chrome done neatly on the front grille, front bumper and fog lamps. Along the side a deep shoulder line runs the length of the car disappearing just before the tail lamps. Rear too, follows the sharp theme with LED tail lamps. 17-inch alloy wheels (for the Highline, 16-inch wheels for Comfortline) fill the pronounced wheel arches nicely.
Now getting to the important part where the Passat means more, literally. The cabin of the new Passat is one of the best in the business — in quality, materials and space. The build quality is typical Volkswagen with every part built to last decades. The dashboard gets a simple and neat layout with a grille that extends across the complete width of the inside, along with the AC vents. The seats offer amazing support for four occupants. The bulged transmission tunnel makes it hard for the third person to sit comfortably in the middle at the rear. The boot space is also a spacious 586 litres, enough for the luggage needs.
The new Passat has been made available with only one engine and transmission combination — 2.0-litre engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-litre engine makes a healthy 175 hp and a maximum torque of 350 Nm that kicks in from 1,500 rpm. There is a slight punch in the way the engine gets going but not in a rushed manner. Refinement levels are satisfactory and will not intrude the commute. Power delivery is linear and the Passat drives around smoothly.
Ride quality has always been the priority over handling for the car and the new generation Passat just furthers the fact. The suspension (McPherson strut with anti-roll bar to the front and multi-link to the rear) are tuned to match the character of Passat. Small pot holes and patches are dissolved with ease and the car feels more pliant. Handling is also good enough with straight line stability but the dead steering wheel at the centre doesn’t inspire much. The Passat can take the corners much confidently than what meets the eye but the lack of feedback from the wheels still leave you wary.
Volkswagen has equipped the Passat with features like a new infotainment system with App Connect, electrically adjustable front seats with power adjustable lumbar support, electric roll-up sunshade for rear windshield, cruise control, park distance control, tyre pressure monitor, adaptive chassis control and park assist (hands free parking).
Volkswagen Passat has always been a great car and now with the looks, more space (on par with the E-Classes, 5 Series and A6s), it has all the ingredients of a great dish. But the problem is the segment, which is not so hot. There are already some great cars fighting for glory such as Skoda Superb, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The Passat has lot going for it but so does the others. For those who look for a comfortable ride in a classy sedan, the German will satisfy.